Sunday, January 4, 2009

More Photos/Wick Continued

You can see where we put the tube to daylight. It runs down slope and actually into the iceplant that borders our property outside of the fence. We live in a very rural area so if the tube is needed I'm not concerned about where the water will exit.

The bricks are made locally in giant wood ovens from a mix of mud and straw. They are very light and very hard. I spent many hours online and on the phone trying to locate a pumice source with no avail. The closest I got was that we needed to hike up into the Andes and collect it ourselves. When I finally found out we could use the brick as a substitute it was such a relief. In total we used 500 bricks (here they cost $100 pesos each when delivered).

We thought to do a simpler infiltrator, but at the same time I wanted access to the chamber in case of clogging. With rental cabins you have to think of the worst case scenario (kid's throwing toys or adults throwing condoms down the toilet). To have access we needed a lid at the height of the walkway. Cement, although a bit more expensive, seemed to be the most structurally sound way of doing the infiltrator. More photos on the next post.

First Photos

Here are the first photos of the wick process. Our situation is unique in the fact that the cabins were already connected to a traditional septic system, located on the neighbor’s (original property owner) land. We needed to design our own on our property. The exit pipe was further below ground than recommended (about 60cm) but the land is also on a hill. We ran the wick on the down slope, thus we have only a small drop off from the infiltrator area to the surrounding wick. The wick bricks are 16-18" deep and topsoil 6-8".

On the Oasis design plans the infiltrator stops and the wick continues 15 by 3 feet or so (I gather) in a rectangular direction. We decided to continue our wick in an 8 by 5 foot area, with another 8 by 1.5 foot trench that borders our propane tank. My idea is to eventually hide the propane tank with plants or bushes fed by wick water.

Obviously all digging Matt did by hand. You can see from the photos how deep the exit pipe is. The area above the pipe (an eventual cement infiltrator) is used as a walk way. You'll see how we had to make a tall cement box for the infiltrator so people could continue using the space as a walkway.

Watson Wick

Inspired by an alternative and more eco-friendly way to deal with our human waste, I researched the Watson Wick (more info here:
and implemented it for our 3 rental cabins (black water only) in rural seaside Chile.

This blog photo documents the process, and in the future I'll update any problems or complications. It's been installed now for only a week, so far so good!

All the physical labor was done by Matt Ammerman, originally from Hawaii but has lived here for many years. This was a first time building a septic system for the both of us. We used the design found on the Oasis Website, and are crossing our fingers that it's the right size for the amount of waste we have. I was unable to come across exact measurements per water used, so everything is an estimate.

Our use: 3 toilets. Top cabin capacity: 10 persons. High tourist season coincides with dry weather season.

Weather: Rainy season max 4 months (May-Sept) Temperate climate, cool ocean water, comparable to Central/Northern CA

Our wick dimensions: Infiltrator/Chamber 2 by 3 feet. Wick area about 60 square feet